If you’re a gin enthusiast, you’re probably no stranger to various styles available today. One style that’s regained popularity over the years is Old Tom. It’s revered for its sweet yet complex taste and viscosity. In this post, I’ll share 7 brands worth including in your home bar. Let’s dive in!
TLDR; Our Favorite Old Tom Gin
Hayman’s Old Tom is our top pick. The manufacturers continue to use traditional methods to produce spirits. The result is a rich gin that boasts a bold citrus and juniper character, with a subtle yet balanced sweetness. Also, it proves that authenticity doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. At around $29 a bottle, you can enjoy it with friends and family on any occasion.
What Is Old Tom Gin
Old Tom is a style of gin that dates back to the 18th century. It’s often described as a midpoint between Genever and London Dry. The gin is slightly sweeter with a more full-bodied profile. Distillers often use malted barley as a base, contributing to its complex profile. It’s also botanical-rich, so you’ll notice it becomes cloudy when you dilute it.
How Did Old Tom Get Its Name?
One popular story suggests that during the 18th century, gin was often sold in taverns through a slot in a wall plastered with a black cat or “Old Tom” sign. Customers would insert a coin, and in return, a shot of gin would be dispensed.
How Is Old Tom Gin Different From Normal Gin?
Compared to London Dry, Old Tom gin is sweeter and less juniper-forward. It has a richer mouthfeel because of added sugar or sweet botanicals, like licorice, and a more pronounced maltiness.
Old Tom Gin Botanical And Aging Variation
Juniper berries, coriander seeds, and angelica root are key botanicals in Old Tom gin recipes. Some distillers add flowers or tropical fruit to add complexity to the flavor profile, while others take it a step further by aging their spirits in oak barrels to add depth and character.
The 7 Best Old Tom Gins In 2023
Here’s a selection of the finest Old Tom gin brands worth exploring.
1. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (Our Favorite)
Founded in 1863, Hayman’s is a true English-style gin that harkens back to a time when the spirit was richer in flavor. The gin boasts a bold citrus and juniper pine character, with a subtle yet balanced sweetness.
On the nose, you’ll pick up concentrated floral and citrus notes with subtle earthy notes. As you take a sip, you’ll experience bold juniper flavors, with a lustrous mouth feel. It’s an excellent choice for classic cocktails like the Martinez and Tom Collins.
2. Herno Old Tom Gin (Runner Up)
Herno is infused with Meadowsweet and a touch of sugar, resulting in a bright floral gin. It offers a smooth texture with light sweetness, accompanied by crisp greens and pine flower notes. The finish is a long-lasting juicy juniper presence.
3. Citadelle No Mistake Old Tom Gin
Citadelle No Mistake is definitely no mistake. The gin is sweetened with toasted, aged brown sugar. It’s then aged in former spirit barrels, resulting in a deeply caramelized and refined gin. It imparts notes of cedar, oak board, and stewed raisins, with a moderately sweet profile and hints of black walnut, pine, and toasted spices.
4. Broken Bones Old Tom Gin
This Slovenian gin incorporates local juniper and rose hip, along with linden flowers, and cardamom, and is sweetened with Slovene linden honey after distillation. The gin opens with a blend of aniseed, zesty juniper, vanilla, pepper, and floral notes. The aromatic journey continues with hints of lavender, cardamom, bitter lemon, and lemon sherbet.
5. Gin Lane 1751
With a classic botanical bill focusing on juniper, angelica root, and coriander, Gin Lane 1751 embodies the essence of the 18th-century gin. The spirit boasts a balanced profile with soft citrus peel and a creaminess and earthiness reminiscent of licorice. It’s perfect for Martinez or Negroni.
6. Porter’s Tropical Old Tom Gin
Porter’s is a beautiful infusion of tropical botanicals. It contains orris root, almond, passion fruit, guava, white tea, and many others. The gin is lightly sweetened and offers a rich mouthfeel with hints of orange blossom honey, which build to intense dried papaya flavors. The finish is moderate with honeyed white tea leaves.
7. House of Botanicals Old Tom Gin
House of Botanicals offers a refreshing floral experience with a blend of Moroccan saffron, chamomile, and muscovado sugar. The spirit boasts floral, spicy, and earthy notes on the nose. When you take a sip, you’ll be presented with hints of pine, coriander, sherbet-y citrus, and chamomile.
What We Looked For In An Old Tom Gin:
A unique aspect of Old Tom is its distinct flavor profile. Juniper berries, citrus, coriander seeds, and angelica root are common botanical choices, but some brands allow their creativity to come into play by adding guava, rose hip, and many others.
We curated gins that are sweet and botanically complex while preserving the authentic pre-prohibition taste. This allows you to enjoy a rounded drink if you want to enjoy it neat. Also, it won’t overpower other ingredients when added to cocktails.
Some Old Toms boast a higher ABV compared to London Drys, normally 41% and above. High alcohol spirits tend to be rough around the edges with a pungent ethanol sensation. Though the brands in this post contain around 43% ABV, they’re smoother and contribute to a well-rounded drinking experience.
Higher-priced gins often boast superior botanical sourcing and a more complex flavor profile. But, there are also excellent mid-range and budget-friendly gins that offer great value without compromising on taste. We’ve provided a diverse selection of gins that offer value for money.
If you’re looking for a tasty alternative to the London Dry, the Old Tom gins in this post are worth exploring. We focused on brands that showcase a commitment to craftsmanship and creativity, without compromising the essence of this historic style.
They’re sweet and have a more pronounced flavor profile. This allows you to enjoy it neat or use it as a base for classic cocktails like the Tom Collins or Martinez.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between gin and Old Tom gin?
Old Tom gin is sweeter and malty, while normal gin, like London Dry, is drier and juniper-forward.
Q. What is different about Old Tom gin?
Old Tom gin is sweeter because of the addition of sugar or sweetening agents. It also offers a fuller mouthfeel and pronounced maltiness compared to other gins. It’s often used in cocktails that call for a sweeter gin like the Martinez and Tom Collins.
Q. What is the best mixer for Old Tom gin?
Old Tom gin pairs well with a range of mixers, but popular choices include:
- Tonic water
- Club soda
- Ginger beer
- Lime or lemon juice
Q. What is a good substitute for Old Tom gin?
If you’re not a fan of Old Tom or can’t get your hands on your favorite brand, a suitable substitute could be a sweeter style of gin. Here are a few good options:
- Tanqueray Malacca
- Bombay Sapphire East
- Hendrick’s Orbium